Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Article excerpt

For years the obits in The New York Times have been masterpieces of journalism. Recently the paper eulogized the last rites of the Seattle Post Intelligencer after more than 100 years of publication. The daily journal is no more.

Have you noticed how many obituaries these days are about the demise of some institution--the shuttering of neighborhood schools, churches, or watering hole, the death of a company, a landmark, a factory, a newspaper? The prevailing doctrine is Social Darwinism, the survival of the fittest in the capitalistic system, the end of an era. If you live long enough, you are bound to see it as we are seeing it now.

Every institution in which I have been vested--radio, television, journalism, education and religion--is in decline, not because they are outdated but because of the mediocrity that prevails in their ranks.

A century ago the St. Louis World's Fair was the harbinger of change--the horse and carriage for the motor car, the kerosene lamp became the light bulb, Morse Code to Marconi's wireless, the balloon for the airplane, windmills for generators. Whatever became of this and that and the other?

There have always been visions of the future. I remember Dick Tracy's radio picture watch. He saw things we never thought we would see--the world up close on your wrist.

And whatever became of the newspaper before it shrank to a tabloid? But it is not the size of the fold--it's what's inside that smells. For the most part this current crop of so-called journalists can't write--style and substance are hard to find and Mike Bush at 5 on 5 pretty well sums up the March of Time and the boredom of the talking head. …

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